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How Taylor Swift Convinced Young People to Vote

October 17, 2018Thedreidel

posts from The Dreidel

Taylor Swift gave young people old enough to vote a gift, and it wasn’t music – it was responsibility. Usually avoiding politics, Taylor Swift endorsed a candidate in her home state of Tennessee.

She endorsed two candidates, actually, both Democrats: Representative Jim Cooper, who is running for re-election to Congress, and former Gov. Phil Bredesen, who is running to fill the Senate seat that the Republican Bob Corker is vacating.

Taking it a step further, Taylor sent out an Instagram post to her 112 million followers, where she slammed Marsha Blackburn, the Republican House member running against Mr. Bredesen: “Her voting record in Congress appalls and terrifies me,” Ms. Swift wrote. “She voted against equal pay for women. She voted against the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which attempts to protect women from domestic violence, stalking and date rape. She believes businesses have a right to refuse service to gay couples. She also believes they should not have the right to marry. These are not MY Tennessee values.”

There’s a good reason for any female artist, especially one who got her start on country radio, to think twice about wading into politics. To understand how much courage it took for Taylor Swift to post such a statement, you need to remember what happened to the Dixie Chicks back in 2003. At the time they were one of the most popular acts in country-music history and the top-selling female group of all time. Then, in the run-up to the Iraq war, the lead singer, Natalie Maines, told a London audience that the group opposed the coming invasion: “We do not want this war, this violence,” she said, “and we’re ashamed that the president of the United States is from Texas.”

To their audience, the band members became public enemies overnight. Radio stations were bombarded with calls from irate listeners. The group’s tour sponsor dropped them. Fans boycotted them. They got death threats. Ever since, country-music publicists have made it clear to their artists, especially their female artists: Skip the politics.

The Dixie Chicks were almost ruined. Here in 2018, something very different is happening to Taylor Swift: People, it seems, are following her lead. By noon on Tuesday, less than 48 hours after she posted her exhortation on Instagram, more than 166,000 people across the country had registered to vote. And while there is no hard evidence, no way to measure how much Swift’s post had to do with the bump, some details were telling: Roughly 42 percent of the newly registered are between the ages of 18 and 24, right in Taylor Swift’s wheelhouse. “We have never seen a 24- or 36- or 48-hour period like this,” a spokeswoman for Vote.org told The Times.

Among the newly registered, more than 6,200 live in Tennessee, and they can thank Taylor Swift for their sudden awareness of the importance that getting out the vote holds.

If you’re 18, you need to vote.

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